Kelloggs Cereal Overhaul

Nearly two-thirds of Kellogg’s and Unilever’s flagship products surveyed were deemed less healthy

More than half of the flagship products from five of the largest global food companies are HFSS, according to a new survey by health campaigners.

The claims by Action on Sugar/Salt and ShareAction come ahead of October’s start of the clampdown on HFSS promotions.

Their research looked at 100 key products produced by Danone, Kellogg’s, Kraft Heinz, Nestlé and Unilever, and found more than half would receive a red colour-coded warning label on front of pack for being high in either salt, sugar or saturated fat.

One in three products surveyed within the Department of Health’s salt reduction programme failed to meet their targets, with Unilever lagging furthest behind.

The charities said immediate government intervention was also required to introduce new salt, sugar and fat targets.

Nearly two-thirds of Kellogg’s and Unilever’s flagship products surveyed were deemed less healthy. Danone had the lowest proportion of flagship products that scored as less healthy, with two in 20.

In March, Unilever bowed to pressure from ShareAction with a commitment to publish more transparent information on the levels of HFSS products in its portfolio of food products.

ShareAction filed a shareholder proposal in January urging the company to disclose against government-endorsed health models and adopt ambitious targets to increase the share of healthy foods in its sales.

Kellogg’s recently launched an unsuccessful legal fight to overturn the government’s ban on HFSS promotions, claiming the system used to define products was not fit for purpose.


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“It’s a national scandal that most of these big food companies are blatantly contributing to the number of people dying and suffering unnecessarily from strokes and heart disease, which remains the biggest cause of death in the UK,” said chair of Action on Salt, Graham MacGregor.

“Fundamentally, we need these companies to be more responsible and for the government to take full control with strict measures to include mandatory targets for reformulation, well-enforced marketing and promotions restrictions (including shortening the delay to ban multibuys and advertising) and better food labelling requirements.”

Ignacio Vazquez, head of health at ShareAction, added: “While some manufacturers are taking steps to increase their sales of healthy foods, the overall picture is of an industry lagging behind.

“The impact of obesity on a healthier society is clear and investments in companies over-reliant on the sales of unhealthy foods are fast becoming stranded assets. We have seen the UK retail market respond to these issues by setting clear targets to increase their sales of healthy foods over time. Shareholders of food manufacturers need to call on them to do the same.”

 A Danone spokesman said: “We are pleased to have this recognised through Action on Salt’s survey – which describes Danone as having the ‘lowest proportion’ of unhealthy flagship products.

“As one of the top food and drink businesses in the UK with market-leading brands such as Actimel, Alpro, and Volvic, the health of the nation is a top priority for us. We will continue innovating, reformulating, and working with retailers and industry groups to support the health of consumers. We urge the rest of the industry to join us in putting health first – going beyond just meeting regulatory standards, and actively working to make healthier choices the easy option.”